As the field for the 2011 NCAA Tournament consists of 68 teams, as opposed to the 65 teams that have comprised the field the past couple of years, the NCAA is having the first ever "First Four" on Tuesday and Wednesday in Dayton, Ohio.
These four games will be played by some of the last teams into the tournament, with the winners of those four games moving on to the field of 64 for regular tournament play.
The NCAA has announced the times for these four games. After the jump, you can get the teams, the times they'll be playing, and what's at stake.
The first game of the first ever First Four will take place at 5:30 PM Central time on Tuesday, March 15. The game will be contested by the UNC-Asheville Bulldogs, winners of the Big South Conference tournament and the Sun Belt Conference champions, the Arkansas-Little Rock Trojans. The winner of this game will earn the right to be the number 16 seed in the Southeast region, where they'll take on the Pittsburgh Panthers on Thursday in Washington, D.C.
The second game of the First Four will take place at approximately 8:00 PM Central time on Tuesday. This one will pit the Alabama-Birmingham Blazers, hailing from Conference USA, against the ACC's Clemson Tigers. The winner of this game will be classified as the number 12 seed in the East bracket, and move on to face the West Virginia Mountaineers on Thursday in Tampa, Florida.
Wednesday will give us the last two games of the First Four. The early game that day, once again tipping off at 5:30 PM Central time, will bring us a match-up between the Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners, the champions of the Southland Conference, and the Alabama State Hornets, who took home the Southwestern Athletic Conference title. The victor in this one will be the number 16 seed in the East bracket, which means they get the privilege of taking on the top overall seed in the tournament, the Ohio State Buckeyes, in Cleveland, Ohio on Friday.
The last game of the "opening round" will have the Pac-10's USC Trojans facing off against the Virgina Commonweath Rams of the Colonial Athletic Association. Start time for this one is 8:00 PM Central time, and the winner of this one will be the number 11 seed in the Southwest bracket. That means they will get to face the Georgetown Hoyas in Chicago, Illinois, on Friday.
All of these games can be seen on. . .TruTV. Yes, TruTV. That's Channel 246 on your DirecTV box. . .as a loyal Forensic Files viewer, I have that one memorized. . .or check your local cable listings for the proper channel in your area.